Interdependent Web: The grace of learning

Interdependent Web: The grace of learning

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.


The grace of learning

When dealing with with people who need to learn the hard way, the Rev. Deanna Vandiver draws patience from remembering how her grandmother taught her about hot stoves.

Remembering how I had to learn the concept of hot keeps me humble and present, remembering that there was a time when I did not know about the concepts of systemic racism or internalized racial oppression. There was a time when I went through denial, anger, bargaining, depression on my way to acceptance. There are times when I still do, since I have oceans more to learn about how white supremacy and internalized racial oppression manifest within me and the world in which I live. And I am only beginning to understand how to dismantle this dis-ease. (Quest for Meaning, March 15)

The Rev. Madelyn Kelstein Campbell objects to the creation of “disposable people.”

Trump, and other fascists and hate-mongers before him, have used the othering of people to build themselves up—to make themselves seem important. If you’re going to try to whip people into a frenzy over something, if you’re going to get them into a lather and ready to fight for your cause, you have to give them an enemy. But it’s no good if we think of the enemy as actual human beings. We can’t humanize them—we have to dehumanize them. We need disposable people. (The Widow’s Mite-y Blog, March 14)

Doug Muder writes about his racial blind spots.

Blacks can never “check out” of race. They can’t say, “Today I’m just going to be a human being and forget about being black.”

But I can forget about race whenever I want, and so sometimes it seems strange to me that they don’t. “I don’t see race,” a lot of whites say, and I know what they mean: Of course I notice that the new guy at work is black, but it’s not a thing. . . .

Because that’s how my blind spot tempts me to think about race: It’s optional. I can choose not to think about being white and he can choose not to think about being black, and then there won’t be any race problem. (The Weekly Sift, March 14)

Clergy and politics

The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens struggles with the very public caucus process in Idaho, which will reveal her political preference to her parishioners.

The caucus for Idaho Democrats is less than a week away. I find myself feeling caught between a rock and a hard place. There is no way to avoid having congregants see which candidate I prefer. I can’t deny that there’s a tightness in my chest.

I will breathe through that tightness. I will trust my good folks to be accepting and to manage their anxiety. I will manage my own anxiety. I will beam love and compassion across the room. I will remember the most important truth of all: we are all in this together. (Revehstevens, March 17)

For the Rev. Theresa Novak, time away from parish ministry frees her to endorse a political candidate.

Partisan politics was something I stayed far away from when I was serving a parish. Aside from the need to retain the congregation’s tax exempt status, it also just felt wrong to be telling people that looked up to me as their pastor how to vote. Ministers’ voices and opinions can carry a lot of weight with their congregants. I may be on the heavy side, but I don’t like throwing my weight around that way.

I am not serving a congregation currently, however.

If I serve as a parish minister again, I will again stay away from obviously partisan positions while still advocating for compassion and justice. (Sermons, Poems, and Other Musings, March 11)

Celebrating Ostara

D. C. McBride provides a brief history of the Ostara holiday—and evaluates what’s historically accurate, and what’s not.

Until I sat down to write this article, I had never been a fan of Ostara. I had always felt that it as little more than some Pagan garnish placed atop a blatantly appropriated Christian festival. . . .

Writing this article has caused me to change my opinions on Ostara. The fact that we can linguistically prove that Eostre is a cognate of a Proto-Indo-European dawn Goddess gives Her likely historical roots. And admittedly, the “bunny and egg” imagery works very well for many Neo-Pagan cosmologies. If we as a community can begin to acknowledge that our modern Ostara traditions are modern creations of our own intent based on historical conjecture, then I think I could set aside my reservations about Ostara. (Nature’s Path, March 17)

The Rev. Catharine Clarenbach writes that, “ Ostara is just sexier than I used to give it credit for.”

Ostara is the second of the fertility holidays. Brigid’s holiday has lambing and dairy, light-but-not-heat. Beltaine has sex, straight up, no chaser. More flowers. More love. Lying on the land in a lover’s arms. Ostara, though, seems to me to be its own sexy holiday.

Where do all those babies come from anyway? Those tiny plants. Those little chickens. The bunnies hopping all over my yard? (Nature’s Path, March 16)

Ecstatic moments

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein recounts the moment when she heard the call to her first vocation, teaching.

No fanfare, no questioning, no wondering, no second-guessing. A mystical experience that set the course for my life and I was completely matter of fact about responding. I still marvel at that.

I was to hear that same voice speak one other time the next year, but that’s another story.

I heard a voice say, “You’re going to be a teacher,” so I obeyed.

And that obedience has given me a life of joy and fulfillment, although the forms of my teaching have changed over the decades. (PeaceBang, March 16)

Andrew Hidas notes that ecstatic moments often have a short half-life.

Sometimes moments of beauty string themselves together on our behalf and we are fortunate to be engorged with joy through entire long afternoons or evenings of special conversation or performance or natural splendor. Or the moments extend to months of bliss in love with a new person or project or idea.

Other times, the moment—just the one moment—is here, and then it is gone. (Traversing, March 11)